Inspectioneering Journal

Plant Condition Management Strategies

Part 1

By Michael Twomey at CONAM Inspection Inc., and Jay N. Rothbart, PCMS Division at Conam Inspection Inc. . This article appears in the July/August 1997 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

Regulatory requirements such as OSHA 1910, industry codes and practices coupled with an international drive for more cost-effective preventative maintenance are leading the industry toward data information management systems to assist in organizing and prioritizing preventive maintenance strategies. This shift coincides with the movement toward a risk-based inspection approach to plant condition management. This approach ranks units or individual equipment according to criticality or risk, allowing inspection efforts to be focused where they can have the greatest effect in risk reduction. There are a number of points to bear in mind when planning to implement a plant condition management system.


Data analysis software systems are now utilized in many refineries, chemical plants and production and exploration facilities for the management of inspection information on piping, pressure vessels and other equipment. A software system offers tremendous advantages as a tool to organize information and evaluate results. Such systems may provide the tools to budget and plan long term maintenance strategies. These systems increase the ability to identify a problem before a failure actually occurs and potentially reduce unplanned shutdowns and their attendant lost profit opportunities. Inspections then lead to cost reductions. Linking risk assessment to an information management system focuses inspection and preventative maintenance resources on the high-risk areas where problems are most likely to occur.

An effective information management package also reduces cost by spreading inspection efforts over time.

The use of equipment such as ultrasonic dataloggers cuts costs by reducing the inspection labor required, reducing the data entry required, and eliminating the need for manual calculation of corrosion rates and remaining life predictions.

Plant condition management programs help answer a number of key questions:

  • How can the safety of operating personnel, the general public and property be assured?
  • What engineering and metallurgical concerns need to be addressed?
  • What equipment, piping, and appurtenances require maintenance attention, replacement or monitoring?
  • How to prioritize this maintenance?
  • What is the remaining useful life of each piece of equipment?
  • How much inspection is required for each type of process or service?
  • What are the most efficient and cost effective methods to achieve these goals?
  • What is the repair, alteration and inspection history of piping and equipment?
  • How can records be updated to reflect the rapid changes in design and layout?

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